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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Cells expressing the DG42 gene from early Xenopus embryos synthesize hyaluronan.

DG42 is one of the main mRNAs expressed during gastrulation in embryos of Xenopus laevis. Here we demonstrate that cells expressing this mRNA synthesize hyaluronan. The cloned DG42 cDNA was expressed in rabbit kidney (RK13) and human osteosarcoma (tk-) cells using a vaccinia virus system. Lysates prepared from infected cells were incubated in the presence of UDP-N-acetylglucosamine and UDP-[14C]glucuronic acid. This yielded a glycosaminoglycan with a molecular mass of about 200,000 Da. Formation of this product was only observed in the presence of both substrates. The glycosaminoglycan could be digested with testicular hyaluronidase and with Streptomyces hyaluronate lyase but not with Serratia chitinase. Hyaluronan synthase activity could also be detected in homogenates of early Xenopus embryos, and the activity was found to correlate with the expression of DG42 mRNA at different stages of development. Synthesis of hyaluronan is thus an early event after midblastula transition, indicating its importance for the ensuing cell movements in the developing embryo. Our results are at variance with a recent report (Semino, C. E. & Robbins, P. W. (1995) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 92, 3498-3501) that DG42 codes for an enzyme that catalyzes the synthesis of chitin-like oligosaccharides.[1]


  1. Cells expressing the DG42 gene from early Xenopus embryos synthesize hyaluronan. Meyer, M.F., Kreil, G. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (1996) [Pubmed]
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